South Australia is considered by many the nation’s hidden gem. With Sydney and Melbourne capturing most of the headlines, what is often referred to as “the sleepy city” of Adelaide can sometimes fly under the radar with travellers, and is indicative of its quiet, peaceful city vibe. But don’t be fooled by the nickname; there’s plenty to do, see, and experience in South Australia.
Boasting some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, incredible hikes in nature, and truly unique experiences; South Australia is a must for any curious, passionate traveller.
Let’s explore what makes South Australia such a magical place.
1. Fringe Festival
Adelaide Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Lasting 31 days and nights, Fringe transforms Adelaide and greater South Australia. Fringe festival stretches from Whyalla all the way across the state to Naracoorte, with eclectic and vibrant events that include cabaret, theatre, comedy, circus, music, visual arts, workshops and so much more.
2. Wine Country
South Australia is renowned for producing some of the world’s finest wine. It is home to 18 different wine regions including the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra. Each of these high-profile wineries offer tours and cellar door tastings. Look no further for a perfect group day out or a romantic date with the other half. Unique to Barossa region, the stone cottages and Lutheran churches are testament to a 19th-century wave of German settlers.
3. Port Lincoln
Port Lincoln is famous for its sea lions and great white shark experiences, with tours that offer you amazing and intimate experiences with some of Australia’s cutest and scariest sea creatures. But there is also so much more to Port Lincoln, with award-winning restaurants, beautiful beaches, great fishing and a tonne of history that will keep you busy for days. From Adelaide it takes about seven hours (approximately 647 kilometres) to get to Port Lincoln. Port Lincoln also has it’s own airport which has direct flights from Adelaide.
4. Victor Harbor
Surrounded by stunning beaches, islands, rocky cliffs, rivers, and granite boulders, Victor Harbor offers an amazing range of activities and adventures. If you love the outdoors and nature, Victor Harbor is the perfect place to visit. One such adventure takes place on Granite Island, just off the coast of Victor Harbor, home to one of the state’s most adorable birds – the penguin. Big Duck run tours almost every day at dusk to see the small colony of penguins that live on the island.
5. Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island (KI) lies off the mainland of South Australia, southwest of Adelaide. With its raw and rugged coastline, impeccably clear waters, natural wonders and wildlife, KI is known as nature’s playground. Take an all-of-Island day tour, experience Little Sahara on a sandboard, ride a dune buggy or hire a quad bike. A marine tour gets you up close and personal with all the amazing sea life, or tour in a fully-restored heritage truck. There’s a style and speed to suit everyone.
Glenelg is so easily accessible from Adelaide City using the Glenelg Tram and has much to offer when you arrive. There is plenty to keep the whole family amused such as; fishing charters, sailing, beach volleyball and activities, walking trails, bike hire, the famous Dolphin swim or watch or even a twilight cruise, reserves, play grounds, BBQ areas, lots of history and an amusement centre.
7. River Torrens
Spanning the Adelaide plains, River Torrens is the most significant and important stretch of inland water around Adelaide City. It is an ideal destination for a range of water activities. Rowing, dragon boating and canoe/kayaking are all popular, as is model powerboat racing. The river itself is 85km long, starting in the Adelaide Hills near the impressive Mount Pleasant. From there, it weaves its way across the sprawling Adelaide Plains, through the city centre, and into the Gulf St Vincent between Henley Beach South and West Beach.
8. Mount Lofty
Mount Lofty Summit, the majestic peak of the Mount Lofty Ranges in the Adelaide Hills, provides spectacular panoramic views across Adelaide’s city skyline to the coast. From the summit you can follow the popular walk down to Waterfall Gully, join the Heysen Trail or stroll along a walking trail through native bushland to Cleland Wildlife Park.
9. Morialta Conservation Park
There’s something for everyone at Morialta Conservation Park. Enjoy exploring the creek, woodlands, gorges, and stunning waterfalls, which will make you feel miles away from the city. Visit during winter to see the waterfalls flowing at their strongest, and in spring to see the wildflowers at their brightest. If relaxation is more your thing, enjoy a stroll along First Falls walk to the main waterfall, or have a picnic and enjoy a fun-filled day interacting with nature around the Mukanthi Playspace. You may even spot a koala or kookaburra in the large gum trees! For experienced rock climbers, Morialta Rock-climbing Zone is the most popular natural climbing area in the state. There are many climbs of varying difficulty and exposure that can be accessed from Climbers Track off Norton Summit Road.
Located just 25 minutes from Adelaide, Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement and still has a strong German flavour most evident in the small goods outlets; bakeries, pubs, restaurants and cafes that line the bustling main street. While its proximity to Adelaide makes Hahndorf a perennial favourite as a day trip destination, most visitors wish they had longer to explore all the township has to offer so consider accommodation from the wide range available.
There is something for everyone in South Australia. From the thrill of cage-diving to a relaxing boat ride down the Torrens River. On your doorstep, the world-famous wines of Barossa Valley and post-card worthy beaches of the Fleurieu Peninsula await.